Lives in Institutions, Lives in Communities
Studies of MR adults in institutional and community settings provide information about the social, sexual, and parenting aspects of their lives. It must be noted that studies conducted at different times drew from populations identified by distinct classification systems. The standards for identification as MR ( Doll, 1941; Grossman, 1973, 1983; Smith, 1994; Tredgold, 1937) have become more restrictive; tighter standards mean that those labeled are lower functioning; hence, recent follow-up studies may have fewer positive cases than in the past. Methods used to select subjects, such as studying parents referred to child protection agencies, result in samples not representative of the general population of MR adults ( Andron & Tymchuk, 1987). It is necessary to acknowledge the vast differences in support services available and the impact of context on adjustment.
Things done to MR people have "for their own good" rationales (e.g., they are placed in special education so instruction will be geared to their level and they will not feel inadequate, they are sterilized so they will not be burdened by children). Institutions are alleged to provide rehabilitation and training to cure "deviants" ( Wolfensberger, 1974). A reason for institutionalization offered by doctors through the years was protecting the family from what was considered the overwhelming task and disruptive influence of raising an MR child. Parents were told their offspring would receive appropriate services in institutions ( Ursprung, 1990). Once benevolent rationales are thoroughly embedded in the public conscience, their benefits to others surface. Furtive reasons for institutionalization were distancing